Sunday, August 22, 2021

REVIEW: At War with Yourself (graphic novel) by Samuel C. Williams

At War with Yourself is a nonfiction graphic novel about the author's friend's experiences with PTSD. It was one of my library checkouts.


Samuel C. Williams is a UK-based illustrator and comic artist who decides, with his friend Matt's permission and approval, to make a graphic novel about Matt's experiences with PTSD. As he and Matt walk, Matt talks about things like his PTSD symptoms, the way his military training has played into some of those symptoms, his triggers, and the way therapy helped him understand what was going on with him and learn practical calming mechanisms. His wife also briefly talks about Matt's sometimes very violent dreams.

This was very short and felt like the first part of what should have been a longer work. I'd have liked to see more discussion about Matt's experiences with therapy and how it helped him. That said, I really liked his explanation of triggers and how it took him a while to understand them:

"The triggers were not entirely obvious. I would break down and feel the emotions and trauma of an event without understanding why or what they were related to."

He'd react to certain situations in ways he didn't really think about or realize, at the time, were a problem - for example, driving somewhere with his wife, thinking he was being followed, and automatically trying to lose the tail without explaining to his wife the real reason behind his sudden wrong turn. 

The volume ends with a list of organizations in the UK, USA, Canada, and Australia that can help people with PTSD. I could see this graphic novel potentially being helpful for someone who hasn't yet made the connection between their actions and emotions and the possibility that they might have PTSD. I still wish it had devoted a little more time to Matt's experiences with getting treatment.

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